It's been an inspiring week in so many ways. Although my own wellbeing has been stretched-I want to share some of my experience with you. I was invited to attend TheWEL course by the very special Dr David Reilly. David is a friend and colleague and through the years he has often inspired me and kept me focused on what I felt to be right. TheWEL in many ways is the culmination of his life's work, his learning as a doctor, a researcher and very importantly as a human being. His teaching is integrating all he has learned about wellbeing, it's helping too to put the head back on the body, understanding that they of course are connected. But importantly he is sharing this with us all on the course, without judgement so his learning will be ours to venture forward with.
The course is held at the NHS Centre for Integrative Care in Glasgow. It's a welcoming, light filled place. I approached with trepidation , wondering who else would be there, what would happen. I was very clear my purpose for taking part was multi layered. As a new trustee with the charity I was keen to see its work in action, I know already that any time with David is always a gift, I wanted to learn new information and skills for my work BUT I also knew that my own wellbeing remains shaky at times and so I was very keen to take a personal journey too.
Like the others in the group of over 20 I was drawn into the case for change smoothly and convincingly. The information was research based, a powerful story of how, through the stages of public health we have got to our current situation where we all knew what the modern epidemics were. They are not the cholera of the 1900's ; no they are obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, stress, fatigue. You know it too. And rather than being made to feel guilty about this during the afternoon we were invited to learn how we might personally be able to affect the change we need to enable our wellbeing, whatever our health challenges. Enabled not disabled, what a different concept that is.
We learned too that we can awaken the positive mood parts of brain through compassion. Yes, compassion for others but perhaps most importantly for ourselves. Through a technique called Heartmath we learned how easy that could be. I already use mindfulness in my life and work but found this additionally helpful. The impact of the practice shifted the emotions in the room in a way you could almost touch.
We were invited to visualise ourselves as a plant and how we might help the plant flourish. Any visualisation always reveals insights that our logical brains can miss. But I wasn't prepared for mine. I kept telling myself that the way I was feeling I should be the spider plant that lurked on top of a bookcase of mine some years ago. A sad looking beast with lots of tendrils in need of attention ( I couldn't reach it you see). But the image that came instead was my recently purchased orchid. It has brightened the autumn and winter room and it’s so lovely. Only two flowers are in full bloom just now, but many buds to bloom still. Ok, ok I know! That's not me, I thought, but also tried to make sense of it. Now it's always a risky thing to be a plant in my house but an orchid, well need I say more? I watch its fragile flourishing with awe and I'm so aware I need to take care of it. And so the analogy finally made sense. Indeed its fragility scares me at times. But I'm googling care of orchids as we speak!
Reasons to be grateful.
Something we were asked to do as part of the course. Five reasons to be grateful each day...do try it. Here are mine. My family who are my most treasured gifts, my friends who have supported me through this years -and others-ups and downs, my pets ( the cat joined me as I write this in bed), my colleagues and clients who enrich my life and the life I am fortunate to live in all its light and shade. Thank you.
This is a mere glimpse in to the work of TheWELL, find out more here and over the next few weeks travel with me too if you wish.You can even download the manual for the website. I promise you won't regret it. I’m quite sure this is a journey for us all to benefit from-this is the way we all flourish.